Archbishop: Study shows 'urgent need' for dialogue with other faiths


(CNS) — The findings of a recent Georgetown University study on how Catholics
regard Muslims show an “urgent need” to “cultivate positive dialogue” not just among
Catholics and Muslims, but with other faith traditions as well, according to
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago.

has shown that when people of different faith traditions build personal
relationships and engage in dialogue to learn about one another, they develop
the capacity to work together; and they come to appreciate the positive elements
in one another’s traditions,” said a Sept. 21 statement by Archbishop Cupich, the
Catholic co-chairman of the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue.

to a survey of 1,027 Catholics, nearly half of Catholics can’t name any
similarities between Catholicism and Islam. When asked about the overall impression
of Muslims, three in 10 Catholics admit to having unfavorable views, and Catholics
are less likely than the general American public to know a Muslim personally.

survey results were published Sept. 12 in the study “Danger & Dialogue:
American Catholic Public Opinion and Portrayals of Islam.” It was conducted by a research group with Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative,which studies Islamophobia.

was “strongly advocated” by the Second Vatican Council in its document “Nostra
Aetate,” Archbishop Cupich said. The document addressed the relations of the Catholic Church with other religions. “As ‘Nostra Aetate’ teaches, with them (members of other faiths) we
should ‘make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral
values, peace and freedom,'” he added.

“No one
should dismiss the real threats that some Muslims who embrace a radical
ideology, such as the members of the Islamic State, present to people of all
faiths,” Archbishop Cupich said. “That is why it is now even more important to
promote ongoing encounter, dialogue and education between our two great faith

When dialogue
is absent, he added, “we see an increase in the tendency to be negative about
those who are different from ourselves. This diminishes all of us, as we face
increasing incidents of religious intolerance across the globe.”

“It is
incumbent upon Catholics to recognize and raise up the positive voices from the
Muslim world who clearly reject violence by practicing and teaching an Islam of
peace, compassion and mercy.”

Georgetown report seemed to indicate that U.S. Catholics should take their cue
from Pope Francis regarding Islam and interreligious efforts, quoting from his
apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel”: “Our
relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since
they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian

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